September 6, 2022: Criminals Still Transhipping Counterfeits into the U.S.
This week: The FDA reported initiatives to stop illicit medical products entering the U.S. A Missouri doctor who treated patients with unapproved arthritis injections and two people who sold performance enhancing drugs as supplements sentenced. Stories about counterfeit pills in Canada, Saudi Arabia and ten U.S. states, including a 17-year sentence for the dealer who sold pills that killed Zach Didier in 2020.
Images from Operation Lascar (FDA)
A September 1st FDA Voices blog reported that “staggering” quantities of illicit health products are being sent to U.S. international mail facilities after being transshipped through trusted European countries. FDA and regulators in OECD-member countries hope to build on the successes of “Operation Lascar,” a five-year U.S./U.K. initiative, to stop the problem.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) introduced an Overdose Prevention Framework to help prevent drug deaths. In addition to focusing on prevention, harm reduction and treatment, the FDA will work with other agencies to strengthen existing systems that stop illegal, unapproved, and counterfeit products on their way into the country and online.
Town and Country, Missouri physician Abdul Naushad received a one-year prison sentence and must repay $235,977 to the government for purchasing foreign Orthovisc at a discount and asking federal health care programs to reimburse them for legitimate FDA-approved medicine. Naushad treated unknowing arthritis patients with at least 1,000 unapproved injections.
Federal courts closed two cases involving the illegal sale of performance enhancing drugs as workout supplements:
- John Cochcroft, of Lexington, South Carolina, was sentenced to a year and a day for making and selling unapproved performance enhancing drugs that he misrepresented as workout supplements. He will also forfeit $200,000 in proceeds.
- Tanya Puccini, the Albuquerque, New Mexico proprietor of Allstar Nutrition received three years of probation for selling at least $107,000 of unapproved performance enhancing drugs.
Counterfeit pills across the country
In the Pacific West
Virgil Bordner received a 17-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter and selling drugs to a minor. He sold fake Percocet to Zachary Didier, a Rocklin, California teen who died of fentanyl poisoning on December 27, 2020. The Sacramento Update published in-depth coverage about the investigation surrounding Didier’s death.
63-year-old Francisco Javier Schraidt Rodriguez, a former Mexican pharmacy employee, received a seven-and-a-half-year federal prison sentence for fentanyl and alprazolam distribution. Schraidt Rodriguez sent bottles of alprazolam (Xanax) and fentanyl pills to a dealer in Monterey County, where the fentanyl pills killed someone.
A Downey, California man was charged with selling counterfeit prescription pills made with fentanyl to a 17-year-old who died of fentanyl poisoning on October 29, 2021.
In the Mountain West
Nathaniel David Corser, of Colorado Springs, Colorado pleaded guilty to fentanyl distribution resulting in death for selling two counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl to a 19-year-old who died on July 4, 2021 after taking them.
Police in Colorado Springs arrested two men after seizing 230 fentanyl pills from their vehicle.
The Northern Colorado Drug Task Force arrested a Fort Collins woman on drug trafficking charges after a search of her home yielded hundreds of suspected fentanyl pills and distribution amounts of suspected methamphetamine.
Andre Jean Reum, of Wolf Point, Montana, pleaded guilty to attempted possession with intent to distribute fentanyl on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. A U.S. Postal Service inspector intercepted his package of more than 550 fentanyl pills in May.
Police in Bozeman, Montana arrested a Butte man when they responded to a possible domestic incident and found more than 100 fentanyl pills and meth in a vehicle.
In the Midwest
Overland Park, Kansas resident Sylvester Mitchell, III got a 13-year federal prison sentence for selling fake prescription pills made with fentanyl in South Dakota.
The Riley County, Kansas police department announced another fentanyl pill poisoning as a result of counterfeit pills. There have been five such poisonings in the last two weeks.
In the South
Drug task force agents arrested three people after seizing about 3,000 fentanyl pills. over $10,000 cash and other drugs from a home and a marijuana dispensary in Grove, Oklahoma.
A 19-year-old in Wichita Falls, Texas is facing murder charges after he allegedly sold the counterfeit pills made with fentanyl that killed 20-year-old Zoe Brewer in April 2022. A second Wichita Falls resident was arrested after police found 287 fentanyl pills under the hood of his car.
Barry Justin King, of Chesapeake, Virginia, pleaded guilty to distribution charges after law enforcement found nine ounces of meth, approximately 570 fentanyl pills, and approximately 826 counterfeit Adderall pills made with meth in his car. Officers seized another 1500 counterfeit pills during the course of the investigation.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents in St. Albans, West Virginia discovered equipment and materials consistent with pill manufacturing in an apartment.
In the Northeast
Manchester, Connecticut resident Matthew Gastringer received a 28-month prison sentence for fentanyl pill distribution after selling undercover investigators fentanyl pills in July 2020.
Jacquill Stovall of Wilmington, Delaware was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl pills. The Wilmington Police and the DEA caught him dealing the pills in 2021.
Halton Regional Police arrested two people in Ontario, Canada after a search of a residence turned up many different illicit drugs, firearms and a pill press.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia confiscated 47 million amphetamine pills hidden in a flour shipment. Like much of the amphetamines confiscated in the Middle East, the pills were marked with the logo of a discontinued medicine, Captagon.